Thursday, June 16, 2011
When I went to work for one of Ma Bell’s children in their Public Relations Department (see how long ago that was, just by the terminology!!), one of my responsibilities had to do with the supply room. We placed an order each week to have central supply replenish what we had used. There were several items that were “Standing Orders”, things we used on a regular basis – pencils, copy paper, carbon paper (remember those?), etc.
The first couple of orders my boss, Wally let’s say, checked my work. The second time, Wally said “I see you don’t ascribe to the Green Pencil Theory.” I must have looked very blank, then he smiled and explained about the Green Pencil Theory he had learned from his boss.
Ten years after World War II ended, Wally’s supervisor went to work for Ma Bell. His responsibilities included ordering supplies. On the shelves in the supply room were dozens of boxes of green pencils, and there was a standing order for a box to be delivered each week. This did not make sense.
Being a curious fellow, he began asking co-workers why they were using green pencils. No one was. He continued his research, finally discovering that they had not been required since 1946. Between 1942 and 1946, the phone company wanted to keep track of certain types of calls. Operators were issued green pencils to mark down those specific calls. By the time the war ended, tracking ceased.
But standing orders often remained. Green pencils continued to be delivered. Wally’s supervisor got them removed, ten years later.
Are we still doing things that have no reason for existence, too? Shouldn’t we be clearing out our mental and spiritual supply cabinets and getting rid of the unnecessary items taking up space, replacing them with the useful? Let’s take some inventory on what we should have:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8 KJV)
Honest – we have to be discerning, even judgmental, to be certain what goes into our hearts and minds is honest. We cannot accept them at face value any more than we do bins of fruit at the market. We must be fruit inspectors when it comes to honesty.
Pure – that’s easier, a bit. We know what is impure, just as we know when our water is impure. Keep the dirt out.
Lovely – that’s often in the eye of the beholder, but we can tell if we see with the love of God in our hearts. We can see His love reflected in those who serve Him, too.
Good report – yet what we see in the media is so often the bad reports, pandering to the tastes of the audiences. Do we look for the good reports? Do we give good reports?
I think Paul’s use of the word “any” with virtue and praise is important or he wouldn’t have repeated it. Sort of the ‘glass half full’ syndrome, look for good in things before tossing them out.
Honest, pure, lovely with virtue and praise. Keep these on your standing order and clear out anything that takes up room that doesn’t belong and is no longer useful.